Detroit Benefit Concert

•March 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

My apologies to those who already saw this via my artsy Stage and Canvas, but I think this benefit concert deserves cross-posting.

5:00 tonight starts off the 240-hour Assembly Line Concert in Ferndale, Michigan. Running until March 31, possibly longer, the 24/7 benefit concert‘s aim is to help those affected by the economic troubles in the Detroit area, which is home to the Big Three automakers. Hosted at AJ’s Cafe, the concert is in honor of American workers and products. In a press release, cafe owner and community activist AJ O’Neil says:

“We call on every manufacturing plant, every car dealership, garage mechanic to join us. We call on politicians, loan officers, credit agencies, builders to join us. We call for music to heal us in these trying times. We call on the corporate world to join us to help us in our Main Street solution to this American challenge.”

The Assembly Line Concert will also attempt to make the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest continuous concert. At least 240 acts will be performed non-stop in this musical marathon. In order to make the record, there can be no more than 5 minutes of “dead air” during a performance or between acts.

It seems the schedule and bands listing needs updating because Tom Smith, who recently signed up and spread this news, is not listed. The world’s fastest filker will be performing March 31 9:00-10:00 AM. In regard to the concert and the times being what they are, Tom says:

“This is one of those We’re All In It Together So We Might As Well Have Some Fun things, and since we’re all in it together, we might as well have some fun. 🙂 “

AJ’s Cafe is located at 240 Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, Michigan. For those, like myself, who can’t attend, there will be an online feed of the record-breaking benefit Assembly Line Concert.


Gypsy Jivings II

•February 28, 2009 • 1 Comment

The long wintry months brought on a severe case of what I call Gypsy Fever, which is usually eased by traveling. As like draws to like and can be part of the cure, I packed my duffle, boarded the train, and went to see some friends new and old in the city that never sleeps.

There was a delightful evening of stories, music, dancing, laughter, and despite the cold building, warmth. It was so enchanting that even the mice graced us with their presence. They had excellent timing, which produced quite a bit of laughter, for they made their entrance while a storyteller was mentioning squirrels, chipmunks, and mice.

With the online and offline worlds overlapping, I’ve noticed people saying “I’m Nickname from Network”. It’s become another way of introduction and recognition. It’s always nice to hear that someone’s a good person and amicable, but more so to be able to physically see and get a sense of that. It’s refreshing to know that the avatars’ personas are the same in 3-D. Personally, I prefer leaving characters for the stage.

Strangers are merely people one hasn’t met yet. New York City may be large and full of people, but chance encounters may occur more than once. Does that mean they aren’t just chance?  As I stepped off the subway car and onto the platform, I heard a familiar voice accompanied by a guitar. We were both pleasantly surprised to see each other. I didn’t have my bodhran so we couldn’t jam, but I sat back and listened to Gibran Soul‘s “ghetto folk” and R&B for awhile among the throng of commuters hurrying to and fro. When the warm weather returns, we’ll jam again. It could be in Union Square Park like last time, or some other random spot entirely. At this point, who knows where or when we’ll cross paths again, but it’ll happen.


Wild, I take each mile of road,
as much as I can get
You ask me if I’m lonely.
Well, I haven’t felt it yet.
Wild, I’m singing up the moon
and down the winds of change.
Cross-country in this handbasket,
your girl is passing strange
Lady Vagabond hath risen and come into her own
Singing Hi, the open road is home!

~SJ Tucker, Lady Vagabond

Chinese-American Food Demystified

•February 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Did you know that fortune cookies were first made by Japanese bakers in Kyoto, but popularized in Chinese restaurants or that chop suey ends up translating into “odds and ends”? I didn’t, until I watched Jennifer 8. Lee’s presentation at the annual TED conference, which brings together thinkers and doers from the fields of technology, entertainment, design, and then some.

In her presentation, Jennifer 8. Lee, a reporter on culture and city life for the New York Times, shares her discoveries about how two cultures combined to form Chinese-American cuisine. She traveled the world, finding the people and the restaurants to give her answers to questions like “Who is General Tso and why are we eating his chicken?” and “Do Chinese people recognize the Chinese food in America?”. The results of Lee’s detective work can be read in the Fortune Cookie Chronicles, which demystifies the origins of Chinese-American food, along with a lot of other interesting facts and tid bits.

I think I’ll be adding Lee’s book to my reading list. I love food and knowing about it. I am also curious about her findings on why Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas. I always thought it’s because Chinese restaurants are one of the few places open that day, but it could be something else entirely. I guess I’ll have to read and find out.

Invalidate Prop 8

•February 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

18,000 couples may be told that their marriages are null and void. Those vows and tears of joy from the ceremonies will always remain. But the legal recognition of two people joined in matrimony? Wiped away, poof, gone, never existed. Such will be the case if Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense’s latest filing passes through the Supreme Court. They state that Proposition 8 is constitutional and seek to forcibly divorce 36,000 people that were wed between May and November of 2008. On March 5, the case goes before the Supreme Court, who can be urged to reject it and Proposition 8 and to continue allowing couples’ unions legal recognition.

Courage Campaign’s beautiful video puts faces to some of the 18,000 couples whose marriages are at risk of non-consensual annulment. They also provide a letter petitioning the Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8, which may be read and signed at their website.

“Fidelity”: Don’t divorce…

The United States was formed for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. By arguing that Proposition 8 is constitutional, Ken Starr and the Prop 8 team are going against the 9th Amendment, which states:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Section 1 of the 14th Amendment says:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Constitution is about equality for everyone. Protection of laws doesn’t just mean the right to fair trial, but protection and benefits provided by legal recognition of marriage as well.

I’ll skip the arguments against gay marriage and go right to the reasons for it. My cousin and his partner have been together for over 30 years, which is long enough that I forget which one married into the family. They’ve lasted longer than a lot of couples, whether heterosexual or not. Simply put, there are always going to be lousy parents. It happens. Same-sex couples are expected to pay taxes, without receiving the same rights to health insurance, tax deductions, and then some. And of course, people have the basic right to marry if they choose to do so.

In 1989, Denmark was the first country to step toward same-sex marriages through registered partnerships. The Netherlands were the first to fully legalize marriages in 2001. Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Nepal, and Norway followed suit. Hopefully, California will get to join Connecticut and Massachusetts in doing so. Those that recognize registered partnerships or civil unions are Andorra, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Areas of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States recognize them as well. A global map of status and laws may be viewed at Wikipedia.

In the upcoming months I have two weddings to attend. The first is for Canadian friends who will be considered fully married. The second is in Vermont, which recognizes civil unions. Meanwhile, last year’s marriage of a friend in California might get annuled. Words cannot express how downright low that is…

Speak up for human rights,
Speak up against Prop 8!

Obama, Harper, and Budget

•February 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Rick Mercer Report is one of the few shows I watch, when I remember it’s on. For any unfamiliar, he’s Canada’s Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert.  Mercer has some excellent commentary and does some really interesting reports. With the Conservative Party’s Steve Harper as Prime Minister and Democratic Barack Obama as newly elected President, plus the economy’s state, Mercer has been having a field day. Seriously, Harper needs to go…away. I’m a bit impressed that Obama is already planning a visit to Canada.

While Americans can take a look at how funding was spent and will be spent, Canadians have no clue where their money is going. Funny how some of it is unaccounted for. If people are paying, they have the right to know what their money is being used for.

Anyway, here are a few of Rick Mercer‘s rants about Obama, Harper, and the budget.

Obama Envy:

Government Transparency:

Budget Review:


•February 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Due to talking and offering my condolences to a couple friends who have been grieving for loved ones, I’ve been drawn to think about and share my own experiences and sitting shiva. A note of caution, this post may be a trigger for some.

It’s said that there are five stages to mourning, but everyone does so in their own way. The first reaction may be denial and isolation, a defense mechanism to deal with overwhelming emotions and shield from the shock of someone’s passing. Those emotions may change into anger and/or guilt. Deflecting anger onto others and thoughts of of “why?” and “I should have” commonly arise. Bargaining  is a reaction to feelings of helplessness and a way to try to regain control. Thoughts of “if only I had” or “I’ll do this if” is another defense to getting through rough emotions. The fourth stage is depression and sadness from loss. When one of my dogs passed away, the other moped around because she couldn’t find him. The longest stage to reach, if ever, is the calmness of acceptance and making peace. Because bereavement is so personal, the stages are experienced differently, some not at all, and not necessarily in any particular order.

The process may vary because mourning is a case by case basis, so to speak. When my golden retriever was put to sleep I went through all five stages, with an emphasis on anger, guilt, and depression. It was so unexpected that my father, who at the time lived across town, took her to the vet while I was at work. I felt guilty because I didn’t get to say goodbye and pissed at him for not calling me so I could be there. It took a long time to accept her passing and even years later I’m still not ready to live with another golden retriever. But a couple years ago, a silver tabby decided I needed a familiar again (as cats are wont to do) and since I’m only a mere human I had no say in the matter.

The reactions from my aunt’s passing were vastly different. She had lived 13 years longer than her original prognosis so by the time her health and quality of life were minimal I was expecting “the call”. I was in shock from the finality of it, but knew it was a matter of time.  By the time I landed in California the next day, I was fairly at peace with her passing. Sadness took longer, but that’s to be expected. Sitting shiva, a wonderful part of the bereavement process in Judaism, was the best experience in terms of death and mourning. It’s structured like a cocoon to help the bereaved heal emotionally and spiritually.

After the funeral, the seven days of intense mourning begin for immediate family members. Shortly after we returned to my aunt and uncle’s house, family and friends started arriving with food. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many bagels and platters with all the fixings in my life, but that and food brought throughout the week are supposed to feed the family during shiva. The care, kindness, and support displayed through providing for the mourners’ needs helps ease the feelings of pain and loss. The house was filled with laughter, stories, and tears to honor the family member, friend, teacher, and rabbi who touched lives and was loved by many. That I could honor her by being one of the ten adults needed to form a minyan was quite something. Some made a point to visit in time for service to insure there were enough for the prayer group and recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish. Aside from my uncle, cousins, and I taking a couple trips to the beach for fresh air, we spent the week at the house because as Tevye says, “it’s tradition”. I also went for a sunrise hike on Christmas to heal in another way and to know that the wheel of life would continue turning. The time at the house was okay, but the real challenge for me was no music, which is also therapeutic. Sitting shiva is a time of deep reflection, intense bereavement, healing, and love.

While arguing with family members about my coming I was looking up plane tickets- not that they could have really stopped me or sent me right back. I knew it was something I needed and wanted to do. I didn’t care about the time, money, or as mom argued, “the boredom”. In the end, I got to be with family (most of whom I hadn’t seen in awhile), honor my aunt, get in touch with my inner-Jew, grieve and heal, swim in “my” ocean, see an awesome sunrise, and eat a ton of bagels and lox. The bonus was celebrating the Festival of Lights for the first time with my other family members, making it one of the best and most memorable Chanukahs. My trip to California ended up being more or less like a two week vacation.

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. ~Cherokee Proverb

candleA Yahrzeit candle in loving memory of
Aunt Roz
Oct. 9, 1949-Dec. 17, 2005

1989 -July 3, 2003

Acceptance Starts Within

•February 5, 2009 • 2 Comments

This video speaks for itself, but its meaning runs deeper.

Instruction Manual for Life:

Thanks go to WillPen for sharing this.